DOBSON — North Surry came away victorious, but all three local schools saw good things at the Jimmy Martin Classic wrestling tournament.
The Greyhounds won all four matches Saturday against Mount Airy, Surry Central, Atkins and Forbush. Surry Central went 3-1 and Mount Airy 2-2.
The Jimmy Martin Classic gives teams a chance to test out their rosters at the start of the season, trying different kids at weight classes, explained Central Coach Stephen Priddy. And it helps condition wrestlers who might not be at peak endurance yet.
Priddy thanked his fellow coaches for participating in the annual event, named for an assistant coach who died a few years ago.
The wins and losses were all secondary to honoring a great man and great wrestler, said North Coach Eric Jessup. Jimmy was a two-time state qualifier, he noted, then after he graduated, Jimmy held down a full-time job and busted his butt to help the Central program.
For many athletes, this was a chance to get reacquainted with wrestling after playing fall sports.
No team was more affected by late arrivals from other sports than Surry Central. Priddy said eight or nine of his 14 starters played football, and Uriel Secundino played soccer.
Those coming over from football included: Nathon Bautista, freshman Garrett Johnson (JV), Kevin Pack, Nick Coe, Zack Martin, Jared Dimmette, Bryant White and reigning 220-pound state champion Wes Brown.
Three of those young men were among the four undefeated Eagles: Bautista (106), Brown (heavyweight) and Coe (152) to go with Humberto Moreira (220).
Five other Eagles went 3-1: Mason Snow, Raymond Dance, Pack, Martin and White.
Zack is the younger brother of Jimmy Martin. Jessup said he kept an eye on Zack during the tournament and saw a lot of improvement over last year.
The host school defeated Atkins (66-12), Forbush (63-18) and Mount Airy (53-24), but lost by a wide margin to North Surry.
North lost a lot of talent to graduation and start a lot of sophomores, but don’t let that fool anyone, noted Priddy. Those sophomores spent a year learning under those great seniors, and the practice is paying off.
The Greyhounds beat the Eagles 50-24, but Jessup said the final score didn’t show how close the meet was. Several matches were hard-fought affairs, but his team pulled out more than Central, he noted.
At 138, Central’s Dance had a 4-0 lead over Caleb Lowe, then Lowe came back for a decision win. North’s Corbin Bullins was in a close match with Jared Dimmette before getting a fall.
Central’s Mason Snow and North’s Austin Rozier are two good wrestlers who never faced off last year, noted Priddy. They were tied 2-2 in the third period when Rozier caught Snow in a cradle. Snow escaped, but Rozier earned three points with the move and won 5-2.
Jessup said his Hounds are starting just four seniors and no juniors right now.
They are quality young men, but you always wonder how they are going to respond to a good team, said Jessup. And Surry Central is a good, experienced team.
“We won some really close matches against Central today that made a huge difference.”
Over the four matches, North outscored its opponents 285 to 26. That included an 84-0 whitewashing of Atkins, an 81-to-negative-one win over Forbush and a 70-3 win over the Granite Bears.
Hounds who were undefeated in the four matches were Saige Wolfe (at both 106 and 113 weights), Austin McMillian, Tristen Brannock, Rozier, Devyn Green, Austin Collins, Dakota Goss, Levi Slate and Corbin Bullins (who was 3-0 after sitting out the Mount Airy match).
One of the most exciting matches was at 145 where Green took on Mount Airy standout Shay Wilson, another football player rounding back into wrestling shape.
Green flipped Wilson over and nearly got a pin, but Wilson escaped and earned a near-fall himself. Then in the next period, Green got the fall.
“Devyn is really coming into his own,” said Jessup. “I see him getting better every single time out. He’s really going to be something special.”
Priddy came away impressed with Goss at 182. As a freshman, Goss showed plenty of athleticism, but a rib injury kept him out of the lineup most of the season. Still, he had plenty of practice time with 20-match winners Slate and graduated senior Duke Gregory.
Jessup, in turn, complimented Priddy’s 152-pounder.
“Nick Coe has improved tremendously since last year,” he said. And, he’s a top-notch kid off the mat, too.
Sometimes a loss reveals a lot about a person’s character, and Jessup said he was happy with the attitude of freshman Austin Akers.
North had a nice lead on Central and didn’t need Akers to face Wes Brown, whom Jessup called “an absolute monster.”
The coach thought about sitting Akers to protect the young man’s confidence, but Akers wanted to go.
Brown pinned him, but he picked himself off the mat and held his head up, said Jessup. “That’s admirable to me.”
Mount Airy’s Steve Braune was equally impressed with Jamie Smith’s effort in a defeat at 132 lbs.
Smith lost a one-sided match to Rozier, but never gave up a pin, noted Braune. Rozier got Smith on his back a couple of times, but couldn’t finish the match. The technical fall was worth five points, saving the Bears one point compared to a fall.
The Hounds handled the Bears pretty well, Braune admitted, but he, too, has a lot of youth mixed with guys fresh out of football.
Mount Airy is solid top to bottom, said Priddy. They will be even better when their kids settle into their weight classes.
Mason Timmerman was 2-0 Saturday at 220 lbs., but weighs closer to 200 lbs. He will slim down to 195 and be a force in the Northwest Conference, the coaches believed.
Braune said he hoped for a better result against Central, but it seemed like everywhere he had inexperience or an out-of-practice football player, the Eagles had one of their best ready to go.
Brown finished his match in the first minute, and Bautista, Pack, Snow, Dance and White all got first-period falls.
Five Bears finished with winning records on the day.
Along with Timmerman’s 2-0, Dallas Smith, Jamie Smith and Cameron Pack were all 3-1, and Landon Mumford was 2-1 and sat out one match.
Dallas won three matches, but tweaked his knee in the second period against North Surry, noted Braune. He still kept the match close for a 7-3 decision that only gave up three points.
Pack earned a last-second win over North’s Caleb Lowe. Scoring was at a minimum, but Lowe managed a 5-4 edge over the first five and a half minutes.
Pack kept up the effort and finally earned a two-point move with just two seconds left for the win.
Cameron hung in there, said Braune. He was taken down, but didn’t roll over so there weren’t any back-time points awarded. That kept the score close enough for a comeback.
The freshman was quick off the bottom at times, the coach said. So, too, was Austin Branch at 170.
“That was probably the fastest I’ve seen him move,” Braune said of Branch. “He’s improving.”
Alex Howard went 2-2, which was good for a freshman, the coach added.
Young guys have to continue working on getting their fundamentals down, he said. It is so easy to make a mistake, and they can’t get away with those against experienced wrestlers.
One of the Bears’ better wrestlers did not participate Saturday. Jackson Blizzard was out with a bug.
Reach Jeff Linville at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 719-1920.